By Len Bardsley
© 2005 The Times of Trenton
ESTERO, Fla. – This one was no aberration, just true Titans playoff hockey.
The Titans followed a familiar, amazing script Sunday in Game 2 of the Kelly Cup Finals against the Florida Everblades at Germain Arena, using yet another third-period comeback to earn a 2-1 win in a helmet-popping battle.
The Titans have a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, with the next three games at Sovereign Bank Arena, starting 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Everblades reverted back to their best hockey after getting crushed 7-0 in Game 1, but Titans goalie Andrew Allen helped the team survive an impressive Everblades effort, making this one even more devastating to the home team and the crowd of 7,111.
Allen allowed a single Brad Church goal midway through the second period, despite facing 25 quality chances in the first two periods before the Titans worked their third-period magic.
Allen finished with 39 saves, and heads back to Trenton having stopped 77 of 78 Everblades shots over the first two games.
Paul Brown (pictured) knocked in a Steve Munn pass from the side of the goal to tie the game 1-1 with 18:11 left in the third period, and then Scott Bertoli pushed in a Nick Deschenes pass with 11:51 remaining in the third to complete yet another Titans comeback.
“When you have come back and done it, you understand it is attainable,” said Bertoli. “The feeling in this room is we are not going to give up, we are going to get a chance, one goal is one shot. We have guys who can make plays. Ally (Allen) is unbelievable. He is keeping us in games.”
The Titans now have won games against the Reading Royals, Alaska Aces and Everblades when trailing going into the third period during this playoff run, handing the three teams their only losses when leading after two periods in a combined 21 games.
“We were only one goal down,” said Titans coach Mike Haviland. “We have come back in the third period in the playoffs down by two and three. That is what we said inside (the locker room between the second and third periods). We just talked about getting pressure, get things to the net, drive to the net and play our hockey.”
That is exactly what the Titans did with Brown starting things with his fifth playoff goal, and then Deschenes bulled his way into the Everblades’ zone, fought off a defenseman and found an open Bertoli.
“It has happened all year,” said Deschenes of the third period. “It all starts in the back end. Ally shuts the door, the defense starts moving the puck, we start playing in their zone, the momentum changes and we take it from there. No better time than the finals to make a comeback. It never gets old.”
The Everblades were all over the Titans in the opening 10 minutes, getting 12 shots on goal.
Allen made several saves from point-blank range, including a stick save on a Paul Cabana backhand and a glove save on Steve Saviano midway through the first period.
“You have to figure they are going to come out real hard the way they performed last night in front of their home crowd,” said Allen. “I figured I had to be ready for anything. I felt good.”
Allen was sharp again during the Everblades’ final desperate push to force overtime, making a shoulder save on Florida defenseman Matt Pagnutti coming down the wing.
Allen made a save through heavy traffic on Simon Tremblay with seven seconds left before making a pad save on Reggie Berg at the final buzzer.
“Allen came up big for them,” said Everblades coach Gerry Fleming. “He made some big saves, some great saves. We just have to re-group, go up there and play the same way we played tonight. We just need to capitalize on our opportunities.”